Tory Lanez, I Told You © Interscope

Thoughts: Tory Lanez, ‘I Told You’


★★★

Tory Lanez • I Told You • Mad Love / Interscope • Release: 8.19.16

Everyone seems to want to be the next Drake, right? Maybe, maybe not, but there are plenty of artists who emulate the rapper/singer duo these days.  The latest is Tory Lanez who just happened to born in Canada himself.  Lanez built his buzz with a platinum single by the name of “Say It” which happens to be the among the crème de la crème of his highly anticipated debut album, I Told You. 

Going into I Told You, as a music critic and music lover, the expectations for the album were high. “Say It ” was rightfully “kind of a big deal,” so surely I Told You could back it up with an album of ‘hits’.  Ultimately, while it has some terrific moments, the album also has its flaws. Lanez showcases great potential, but realizing that potential as his own distinct artist is the next step.  Also shorter tracks sans embedded interludes is another consideration.

Is I Told You bad? No.  Is it great? No.  It’s good, but there’s room for growth.  Tory Lanez is young enough and talented enough to ‘figure it out’.  The link to the detailed, track-by-track review resides below.

Tory Lanez, I Told You © Interscope

Up-and-coming rapper and singer Tory Lanez delivers an ambitious debut album with ‘I Told You’. It’s imperfect, but he showcases plenty of potential. The post… 18 more words

via Tory Lanez Delivers an Ambitious Debut With ‘I Told You’ — The Musical Hype

Photo Credit: Mad Love / Interscope 
Frank Ocean, Blonde © Boys Don't Cry

Thoughts: Frank Ocean, ‘Blonde’


★★★★½

Frank Ocean • Blonde • Boys Don’t Cry • Release: 8.20.16

It’s been a long time coming – a helluva long time to be precise – but Frank Ocean has returned. After tickling every critic and consumer’s fancy alike on Channel Orange back in 2012, he finally follows up with brilliant sophomore album, Blonde.  Blonde is a tour de force because it is clever, eclectic, and ‘left of center.’  Frank Ocean transcends R&B – can he even be categorized as R&B?  The fact that this is debatable – that his status in R&B is a polarizing one – further contributes to his distinctiveness as a musician and a true artist.

Is Frank Ocean perfect? No. We haven’t forgotten his lackadaisical live performances that threatened to derail his near-perfect studio versions. But, listening to Blonde and the subject matter and introspection conveyed throughout, it’s difficult not to fall for the bait.  The bait, in essence, has us “feeling way too damn good.” Check out the full, track-by-track review at the link below.  Frank Ocean, Blonde © Boys Don't Cry

Urban alternative musician Frank Ocean returns with his highly anticipated sophomore album, ‘Blonde’. He makes following up a masterpiece look easy. The post Frank Ocean Intrigues on Sophomore Album ‘Blonde’ 6 more words

via Frank Ocean Intrigues on Sophomore Album ‘Blonde’ — The Musical Hype

Photo Credits: Boys Don’t Cry 
Suicide Squad - The Album © Atlantic

25 Chart Takeaways: Suicide Squad Still No. 1


Suicide Squad - The Album © Atlantic

Drake hasn’t been atop the charts now for three weeks! While he had a shot to reclaim former glory, Suicide Squad kept the no. 1 spot warm for a second straight week.  Who scored the highest debut? That would be PARTYNEXTDOOR, a Drake protégé (no. 3). While Suicide Squad and Views seems to be ruining other artists’/albums’ chances at nos. 1 & 2, there are plenty of interesting chart stories to absorb this week.  The Billboard 200 dated September 3, 2016, here we go!

  1. Suicide Squad: The Album retains the crown – it spends a second consecutive week at no. 1 on the Billboard 200.

 

  1. Drake (Views) spends a third consecutive week at no. 2. Is the party over for Drizzy?

 

  1. PARTYNEXTDOOR, a Drake protégé, sees PARTYNEXTDOOR 3 (P3) debut at no. 3, his highest charting position.

 

 

  1. Justin Moore takes Kinda Don’t Care to no. 4.

 

  1. Rae Sremmurd scores a second top-10 album with Sremmlife 2, which debuts at no. 7. The platinum-certified The Sremmlife rebounds from no. 152 to no. 126 in its 85th charting week.

 

 

  1. Young The Giant sadly misses the top-10. Home of the Strange debuts at no. 12 on the Billboard 200.

 

  1. DJ Snake sees Encore slip 10 spots in its second week (no. 8 to no. 18).

 

 

  1. Alternative/Underground rap duo Atmosphere takes Fishing Blues to no. 22.

 

  1. Soundtrack Stranger Things, Volume One: A Netflix Original Series debuts at no. 24.

 

 

  1. The Amity Affliction’s latest LP, This Could Be Heartbreak debuts quietly at no. 26.

 

  1. Skillet takes a bit of a tumble. Unleashed slides from no. 3 to no. 25. OUCH!

 

 

  1. Cody JinksI’m Not the Devil debuts at no. 39.

 

  1. The RCA-List debuts at no. 44.

 

 

  1. Country newcomer Dylan Scott doesn’t receive the warmest of welcomes. Dylan Scott debuts lackadaisically at no. 46.

 

 

  1. Daya sees EP Daya jump 38 spots from no. 105 to no. 67.

 

  1. Lil Uzi Vert’s The Perfect LUV Tape debuts at no. 68.

 

  1. Blind Pilot’s And Then Like Lions debuts at no. 79.

 

 

  1. Housefires’ Housefires III debuts at no. 106.

 

 

  1. Fantasia has another horrific week. The Definition Of… plunges 44 spots from no. 66 to no. 110. The album has charted just three weeks, debuting at no. 6.

 

  1. Dan + Shay see their latest album Obsessed improve 21 spots from no. 132 to no. 111. Obsessed debuted at no. 8.

 

 

  1. Jake Owen has an even worse week than Fantasia does. American Love free falls from no. 50 to no. 112. American Love started at no. 4 three weeks ago.

 

 

  1. Maxwell continues a horrific chart run. BlackSUMMERS’night slides from no. 103 to no. 167. It’s charted only seven weeks.

 

  1. Marc E. Bassy sees thrilling EP Groovy People fall 28 spots from no. 148 to no. 176.

 

  1. The Cadillac Three free fall in week two. Bury Me in My Boots slips from no. 34 to no. 182.

 

 

  1. Chris Lane had a tepid debut with Girl Problems at no. 55. This week, the debut from the country singer slides dramatically to no. 188.

 

An expanded version of 25 Chart Takeaways (BB Grooves) appears on The Musical Hype every Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Atlantic 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young the Giant, Home of the Strange © Fueled by Ramen

Thoughts: Young the Giant, ‘Home of the Strange’


★★★★

Alternative band Young the Giant delivers a superb, eclectic effort with their third studio album, ‘Home of the Strange.’

It’s always refreshing when a memorable album crosses the path of a music critic/journalist.  That happened earlier this week when the third LP by alternative band Young The Giant entered my radar.  Previously unaware of the Fueled By Ramen collective, after listening and reviewing track Jungle Youth,” I was hooked.

“Jungle Youth” is an epic single – there’s no other way to describe it.  By far the crème de la crème from Home of the Strange, the hard-hitting, guitar-heavy rocker only “scratches the surface” when analyzing the LP.  Truthfully, frontman Sameer Gadhia and company outdo themselves on this eclectic effort, clearly among the best of 2016.

Beyond “Jungle Youth,” selected gems include Amerika,” a song addressing the American Dream and a relationship that has soured.  Additionally there’s the skeptical “Something to Believe in,” drenched in its agnosticism.

“I’ll give you something to believe in / burn up a basement full of demons / realize you’re a slave to your mind, break free / now give me something to believe in.”

“Titus Was Born” begins relatively quietly, thriving off of subtly initially before growing in scope.  There’s also the lustful “Silvertongue,” arguably the grooviest record on Home of the Strange.  The title track is worth noting as well, clearly a play on the words “home of the brave.”

Ultimately, Home of the Strange is exceptionally conceived – an alluring listening experience. How unfamiliarity with Young the Giant ever occurred given their incredible musical abilities is an oversight from this eclectic critic.  To reiterate, Home of the Strange ranks among the best of the year.

Check out the full length review of Home of the Strange below (The Musical Hype).

Alternative band Young the Giant delivers a superb, eclectic effort with their third studio album, ‘Home of the Strange.’ The post Young the Giant Shines on ‘Home of the Strange’ 6 more words

via Young the Giant Shines on ‘Home of the Strange’ — The Musical Hype

Photo Credit: Fueled By Ramen
Suicide Squad - The Album © Atlantic

25 Chart Takeaways: Suicide Squad Debuts at No. 1


Suicide Squad - The Album © Atlantic

For a second consecutive week, there is a new no. 1 album on the Billboard 200.  After the top-spot had been dominated by Drake (Views), last week, DJ Khaled (Major Key) ended the run.  This week, the soundtrack to box office hit Suicide Squad easily debuts at no. 1 on the Billboard 200.  What’s amazing is how big the gap between the impact of albums nos. 1 and 2 was this week.  Beyond Suicide Squad and the bridesmaid status of Drake, there are many other chart stories worth checking out from the Billboard 200 dated August 27, 2016.

  1. Suicide Squad: The Album easily locks down the no. 1 spot on the Billboard 200.
  1. Drake (Views) spends his second consecutive week at no. 2.
  1. Skillet scores the week’s second highest debut with Unleashed, which bows at no. 3.
  1. Blake Shelton gets a boost this week as If I’m Honest ascends from no. 9 to no. 4 in its 12th charting week.
  1. Now 59 debuts modestly at no. 5.
  1. DJ Khaled takes a tumble this week. Major Key slides from no. 1 to no. 7 in week two.
  1. DJ Snake takes album Snake to no. 8, the final debut in the top 10 of the Billboard 200.
  1. Cody Johnson just misses the top 10. Gotta Be Me settles for a no. 11 start on the BB200.
  1. Gucci Mane sees Everybody Looking slip eight spots (no. 11 to no. 19) in its third charting week. Everybody Looking debuted at no. 2 behind Drake.
  1. Hillary Scott & The Scott Family see Love Remains drop 21 spots from no. 7 to no. 28.
  1. O.A.R. returns to the Billboard 200 this week as XX debuts modestly at no. 31.
  1. The Cadillac Three (Bury Me In My Boots) enters the Billboard 200 at no. 34.
  1. Jake Owen had an abysmal second week. American Love free falls from no. 4 to no. 50.
  1. Chris Lane didn’t exactly light up the charts. Girl Problems debuts quietly at no. 55.
  1. Fantasia crashes and burns this week. The Definition Of… falls 60 spots from no. 6 to no. 66. Honestly, there’s nothing more than you can say but #Damn Fantasia.
  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ The Getaway slides 29 spots from no. 42 to no. 71 after just eight weeks on the chart.
  1. Dinosaur Jr., Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not debuts at no. 72.
  1. Nick Jonas slips out of the top-100 as Last Year Was Complicated falls from no. 74 to no. 101.
  1. Maxwell slips out of the top-100 as blackSUMMERS’night slides from no. 89 to no. 103.
  1. Nick Fradiani earns the worst debut of any American Idol winner. Hurricane debuts at no. 121 on the Billboard 200!
  1. NEEDTOBREATHE continues an unexceptional run with HARD LOVE. The album slips from no. 87 to no. 128 this week.
  1. Prince’s Purple Rain re-enters the Billboard 200 at no. 131. The Very Best of Prince falls, meanwhile (no. 88 to no. 146)
  1. Jason Derulo slides 50 spots as compilation Platinum Hits drops from no. 83 to no. 133.
  1. Marc E. Bassy’s latest EP, Groove People, debuts at no. 148.
  1. Slim Thug, American King debuts at no. 179.

An expanded version of 25 Chart Takeaways (BB Grooves) appears on The Musical Hype every Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Atlantic
DJ Khaled, Major Key © Epic

25 Chart Takeaways: DJ Khaled Dethrones Drake


DJ Khaled, Major Key © Epic

For 12 weeks, all the talk was about Drake. Drake this and Drake that.  Not this week! No friends, foes, and otherwise.  This week DJ Khaled dethroned the “6 God” with his Major Key to success…or something along those lines.  Drake only fell to no. 2, but still, Khaled is only the second artist able to knock off the beast.

Khaled and Drake make for fascinating chart stories, but the grooves don’t stop there on the Billboard 200.  Beyond Views and Major Key(s), there are many tells worth noting on the Billboard 200 dated August 20, 2016.

 

  1. Somehow, DJ Khaled was able to stop the unstoppable. Major Key debuts at no. 1, knocking off Drake’s Views after 12 weeks at no. 1.

 

  1. Drake settles for the runner-up spot. His Views are still important, in other words.

 

  1. Jake Owen takes American Love to no. 4.

 

 

  1. Fantasia earns a fourth top-10 album with The Definition Of… The Definition Of… just misses the top-five at no. 6.

 

  1. Hillary Scott is usually associated with Lady Antebellum, but this time she’s with the family on Love Remains. Love Remains debuts at no. 7.

 

  1. Blake Shelton sees If I’m Honest improve 15 spots to re-enter the top 10 at no. 9.

 

 

  1. Gucci Mane had Everybody Looking last week, but this week, he drops nine spots from no. 2 to no. 11.

 

  1. DescendentsHypercaffium Spazzinate debuts at no. 20.

 

  1. Charlie Puth sees Nine Track Mind jump 12 spots from no. 35 to no. 23 in its 27th charting week.

 

  1. Epic AF takes an “epic” tumble to the tune of 27 spots (no. 5 to no. 32).

 

 

  1. Halsey’s Badlands improves 11 spots from no. 55 to no. 44. Badlands has charted for 49 weeks!

 

  1. The latest album from Vertical Church Band, Frontiers, debuts at no. 46.

 

 

  1. Kiiara reaches a new peak on the Billboard 200 as Low Kii Savage (EP) improves six spots from no. 57 to no. 51.

 

  1. Bryan & Katie Torwalt take Champion to a no. 71 bow.

 

  1. Old Dominion entice folks with Meat And Candy. It ascends 33 spots this week (no. 105 to no. 72).

 

  1. No matter how “sharp” Keith Sweat was on Dress To Impress, he was bound to fall in week two. He does just that (no. 34 to no. 80).

 

 

  1. Lil Uzi sees Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World achieve a new peak position at no. 81.

  2. Jason Derulo
    celebrates Platinum Hits at no. 83. Maybe “celebrate” was the wrong word…

 

  1. NEEDTOBREATHE continues its descent. HARD LOVE drops 35 spots in week three (no. 52 to no. 87).

 

  1. Maxwell’s lackadaisical run continues. blackSUMMERS’night slips 15 more spots (no. 74 to no. 89).

 

  1. Continuing to see-saw back and forth, Dan + Shay see Obsessed slide 20 spots this week (no. 80 to no. 100).

 

 

  1. Rachel Platten is on the rise. Wildfire improves 15 spots (no. 117 to no. 102).

 

  1. ZHU’s Generationwhy debuts quietly at no. 109.

 

  1. Brett Eldredge sees Illinois improves 80 spots (no. 194 to no. 114).

 

 

  1. Lil Durk has a horrific second week. Lil Durk 2X slides from no. 29 to no. 121.
Photo Credit: Epic

 

 

 

 

Fantasia, The Definition of... © RCA

Thoughts: Fantasia, ‘The Definition Of…’


★★★

Fantasia shows her eclectic side on her fifth studio album, The Definition Of…  After lackadaisical sales and a lack of a major hit from 2013 LP The Side Effects of You, The Definition Of… aims at retooling the R&B standout somewhat.  Is this retooled Fantasia effective? Somewhat.

The vocals always shine throughout The Definition Of….  The songs are a bit more “hit and miss.”  The crème de la crème of The Definition Of… is definitely “Sleeping With The One I Love.” R. Kelly may not always be reliable on his own albums when he overexerts sexually, but when he’s writing/producing for others, he’s usually “on.” “Sleeping With The One I Love” is exceptional and is the valedictory moment that holds The Definition Of… together.

Here’s an excerpt from The Musical Hype’s ‘track-by-track’ review:

All in all, The Definition Of… is incredibly ambitious, yet all over the place. Clearly, the M.O. with The Definition of was to make it appeal to pop audiences while not compromising Fantasia’s extraordinary talent.  For the most part, it succeeds, but save for a couple of moments, it doesn’t exceed.  Still, The Definition Of… is an album that grows riper with successive listens.  It’s not Fantasia’s best, but it has its moments.  What is consistent are the vocals – Fantasia sounds superb.

You can check out the full track-by-track review of Fantasia’s The Definition Of… at the link below. 

 

Fantasia delivers an eclectic fifth album with ‘The Definition of.’ Like many eclectic albums, sometimes risks lead to rewards and other times not so much. 17 more words

via Fantasia Embraces Eclecticism on ‘The Definition of’ — The Musical Hype

Gems: “No Time for It,” “So Blue,” “Sleeping with the One I Love,” “Ugly”

Fantasia • The Definition of • 19/RCA • Release: 7.29.16
Photo Credit: 19/RCA
Keith Sweat, Dress to Impress © RAL:Keith Sweat

Keith Sweat Flexes on ‘Dress to Impress’


★★★½

Sensual R&B veteran Keith Sweat celebrates 30 years in the game with latest LP, Dress to Impress. All in all, Dress to Impress is a respectable, well-rounded R&B album. There’s nothing flashy about it and it’s a few songs too long, but Keith Sweat has no reason to “hang his head down.” He particularly shines on his duet with Takiya Mason, “Just The 2 Of Us.” Vocally, Sweat has never sounded better.

Gems: “Good Love,” “Just The 2 Of Us” (ft. Takiya Mason), “Pulling Out the One” & “Special Night”   

Keith Sweat • Dress to Impress • RAL / Keith Sweat • Release: 7.22.16

Link to my full review, via The Musical Hype appears below!

 

New Jack Swing R&B veteran Keith Sweat delivers a respectable, well-rounded grown-folks R&B album with ‘Dress to Impress.’ The post Keith Sweat Remains Tried-and-True on ‘Dress to Impress’ 6 more words

via Keith Sweat Remains Tried-and-True on ‘Dress to Impress’ — The Musical Hype

Photo Credit: RAL / Keith Sweat 
Drake, Views © Cash Money

25 Chart Takeaways: Drake Makes It 12 At No. 1


Gucci Mane, Everybody Looking © Atlantic

Drake (Views) remains at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 for a 12th week.

At the top of the Billboard 200, it’s more of the same! Drake spends a record 12th week at no. 1 on the Billboard 200.  Only one act – Blink-182 (California) – temporarily halted the momentum of Views. Despite a relatively strong showing, Gucci Mane settles for the runner-up spot with comeback album, Everybody Looking.  Beyond Drake and Gucci Mane, there are many other chart takeaways on the Billboard 200, dated August 13, 2016.

  1. Drake. That’s all anybody needs to know about the no. 1 spot. Views rules for a 12th week – three straight in the latest run.
  1. Gucci Mane claims his highest chart bow with Everybody Looking. No. 2 is superb, and a familiar landing spot behind Drake.
  1. Sia rejoins the top-10 fold this week. This Is Acting rebounds five spots from no. 11 to no. 6. This Is Acting has charted for 26 weeks.
  1. Meghan Trainor returns to the top 10. Thank You ascends five spots (no. 15 to no. 10).
  1. Crown The Empire scores a top-15 debut with Retrograde. Retrograde lands at no. 15.
  1. The latest Periphery album, Periphery III: Select Difficulty, debuts at no. 22.
  1. Coldplay continues its rise with A Head Full of Dreams. This week, Dreams improves from no. 32 to no. 28.
  1. Lil Durk’s sophomore album, Lil Durk 2X, debuts unimpressively at no. 29. His 2015 debut performed better on the Billboard 200.
  1. Keith Sweat takes Dress To Impress to no. 34. Not too shabby for the 55-year old veteran.
  1. DJ Drama closes out the top-40 with Quality Street Music 2, which debuts at no. 40.
  1. Reliant K debuts so-so on the BB200. Air For Free settles for a no. 44 start.
  1. NEEDTOBREATHE have a horrid week. HARD LOVE slips 50 spots from no. 2 to no. 52.
  1. gnash reaches a new peak on the Billboard 200. Us improves eight spots from no. 69 to no. 61.
  1. Ghostbusters drops considerably in week two. The soundtrack free falls from no. 18 to no. 73.
  1. Maxwell continues to lose steam. blackSUMMERS’night plummets 28 spots from no. 46 to no. 74.
  1. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin see Savage Mode slip 33 spots (no. 44 to no. 77).
  1. Hezekiah Walker takes Better: Azusa – The Next Generation 2 to no. 88 on the BB200.
  1. YG slips out of the top-100. Still Brazy drops 23 spots from no. 80 to no. 103, just six weeks in.
  1. Steven Tyler’s solo album, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere, dropped 93 spots in its sophomore week (no. 19 to no. 112).
  1. Hillsong UNITED didn’t have the greatest sophomore week either. Of Dirt And Grace: Live From the Land slid 75 spots (no. 40 to no. 115).
  1. Stephen Marley barely dents the Billboard 200. Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life debuts at no. 129.
  1. Foreigner takes Records to a modest no. 147 start.
  1. The underperforming, under-promoted debut album from Dreezy, No Hard Feelings, slips 51 spots from no. 101 to no. 152.
  1. Dirty Heads’ self-titled album free falls from no. 14 to no. 165.
  1. Revocation’s Great Is Our Sin debuts unimpressively at no. 189.

BONUS. Leeland’s Invisible was nearly “invisible” from the Billboard 200. It debuts at no. 200.

Photo Credit: Cash Money, Atlantic
Kanye West, The Life of Pablo

Kanye West – More Good Than Bad?


Musicians are complex people.  Being a musician personally, we beat to our own drum.  For some of us, keeping a steady beat seems to be near impossible.  Kanye West is one of those.  The man, regardless of personal opinions of him, is quite talented.  Most might be shocked to know that since 2000, he’s won a whopping 21 Grammys.  Also, he’s had “pop” success on the Billboard Hot 100 – that only happens every so often with rappers.

As science puts it, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  In the case of “Mr. West,” for every accomplishment, he seems to misstep.  Mainly, West’s mouth gets him into a world of trouble.  Taylor Swift is the biggest faux pas.  But there’s also former President George W. Bush, the infamous “Famous” video, and a near mishap with Beck.  Sigh – Mr. West is one of a kind.

You be the judge. Is Kanye West more good than bad? Is he the devil? Check out a full analysis – in list form – about West.  The link (via The Musical Hype)  is featured below. And if you haven’t checked out what all the Hype is about – do that!

In the latest edition of our column Pros & Cons, one of the music industry’s most polarizing musicians is profiled – Kanye “I Am a God” West. 13 more words

via Pros & Cons: Kanye West — The Musical Hype

Photo CreditG.O.O.D / Def Jam